Last updated: 07:00 PM ET, Thu April 16 2015

Fighting The 4 Biggest Causes of Flight Hangovers

Features & Advice | Tom Bastek | April 16, 2015

Fighting The 4 Biggest Causes of Flight Hangovers

Photo Courtesy of Thinkstock.

We are all familiar with alcohol hangovers, but what about flight hangovers?  Surely you have had jet lag, or are completely dried out when you disembark, or maybe you always come down with a cold right after you fly. That’s a travel hangover, and here are a few ways that might help combat one the next time you travel. As always, consult a doctor before changing any of your exercise, supplement or dietary consumption habits.


One of the most commonly overlooked side effects about air travel is the fact that you are flying in about 12 percent humidity, primarily due to the high altitude humidity levels. This is not done intentionally; it is just a by-product of flying. The recommendation here would be consuming at least a bottle of water before you fly, one while onboard, and one afterwards. If you can get an electrolyte style powder mix like Drip Drop, it certainly won’t hurt to have that in you as well.

Exposure to potential pathogens

The truth of being exposed to sickness in an aircraft is that it isn’t any worse for you being in a plane than any other confined space. The problem is that no one can name any other confined space that you are stuck in for about 2-10 hours (a jail cell?). The confined space, combined with the aforementioned dryness provides for breaking down of mucus membranes, which makes it easier to catch something. 

The real problem isn’t what you are breathing though; it is what you are touching.  When in doubt, wipe everything down. Take a pack of wet wipes with you and wipe down your tray table, your arm rests and anything else that you are coming into contact with.  If anyone else on that place is sick, you are going to catch it unless you are diligent.

It also won’t hurt you to beef up on the vitamins, either. Airborne or Emergen-C will not prevent you from getting sick, but it will give your body an extra boost of the vitamins that it needs to keep your immune system up and running.

Cramps and Soreness

As the seats on most flights continue to get smaller and smaller, the chance of you being sore and cramped after flying is going up.  One of the best things you can do if you are flying is to take a layover.  It might make your travel time longer, but the benefits of being able to get up and stretch those legs are well worth it. 

If you are going to be on a flight for a long period of time, there are plenty of stretches that you can do like these 18 yoga exercises for healthy flying or these seven exercises to do from your airplane seat.

Jet Lag

One of the most common problems with flying is jet lag. You have to set yourself up for success when it comes to beating this age old problem. Start with a mindset. If you are going to England, set your watch to the destination local time before you even push back from the gate. A couple of nights before you leave, get up a little earlier and go to bed a little earlier as well. This will start to put you on the local time. 

If you cannot sleep well on a flight, don’t fly the red eye — ever. All you will do is keep yourself up the whole flight, and then when you arrive in the morning you’ll be going right to bed. If you are heading west, keep yourself up a little late the last couple of nights before you fly or you will find yourself going to be really early. The biggest help is to take a day off on either side of your trip to use for adjustment. If you have the luxury of doing that, the acclimation will be much easier.

So there you go – flight hangover remedies. What did I miss? What do you recommend?  Let me know in the comments below.


You may use your Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook information, including your name, photo & any other personal data you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on Click here to learn more.